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PM willing to listen to options on Scotland's future ties to EU, but rules out referendum

By Mark McLaughlin

Published 16/07/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May is greeted by Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday
Prime Minister Theresa May is greeted by Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday

Theresa May has said that while she is willing to listen to Nicola Sturgeon's thoughts on Scotland having a different relationship with the EU to the rest of the UK, a second independence referendum is not on the cards.

After the Prime Minister met Scotland's First Minister in Edinburgh in one of her first engagements, she said she looked forward to more "constructive and positive discussions".

Ms Sturgeon indicated she had received an assurance from Mrs May that Westminster would be "open and flexible" over the Brexit process.

Asked if Scotland could have a different relationship with the EU, Mrs May replied: "I want to get the best possible deal for the UK, but I'm willing to listen to options. I've been very clear with the First Minister that I want the Scottish Government to be fully engaged in our discussions and our considerations."

And asked if she would authorise a second referendum, she said: "I think the question is, should there be another referendum? As far as I'm concerned the Scottish people had their vote. A very clear message came through, and both the UK and the Scottish Government said they would abide by that.

"We now have the challenge though, as a United Kingdom, to ensure that we get the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom.

"I'm very clear that the Government I lead will be for all parts of the United Kingdom and for all people."

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Sturgeon said: "I was very pleased that Theresa May said that she was absolutely willing to consider any options."

Mrs May said she was keen to visit Scotland so early in her tenure as Prime Minister to demonstrate how "very important" the country is to her.

"When I stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, I made clear that I believe in the United Kingdom," she added.

The European Commission has said it will not hold Brexit negotiations with any part of the UK until the Prime Minister triggers withdrawal under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

The Prime Minister confirmed she had discussed the timescale for initiating the mechanism with Ms Sturgeon.

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